Hoi An Ancient Town
Hoi An city is located on the bank of Thu Bon River, in Quang Nam province, about 30 km from Da Nang city. Also known as Faifo, thanks to favorable geographic and climatic factors, Hoi An was a busy international port, where the Japanese, Chinese and Western merchant ships met during the 17th and 18th centuries.
In this period, Hoi An was the most prominent international trading port of the country and Southeast Asia, the most important economic base of Nguyen Kings. Since the end of the 19th century, due to the impact of many unfavorable factors, Hoi An’s seaport deteriorated and disappeared, ceding its historical role to the young mechanical port Da Nang which then built by the French. However thanks to that, Hoi An has avoided the distortion of a modern city under the influence of urbanization to preserve to this day a unique and great ancient architecture complex.
The old town of Hoi An is a typical example of traditional ports in Southeast Asia preserved intact and thoughtful. Most of the houses here are traditional structures dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries, along the small streets. Lying between the houses of the city, religious architecture, beliefs demonstrate the process of formation, development and even decay of the city. Hoi An is also a landmark of mixed cultural intercourse. The shrine, temples bearing traces of the Chinese are located in the traditional houses of Vietnamese and French-style houses. Besides cultural values through architecture, Hoi An also preserves a rich and diversified intangible culture. The daily life of the old town residents with their customs, beliefs, folk arts and cultural festivals are still being preserved and developed. Hoi An is considered a living museum of architecture and urban lifestyle.
What to see
Although most of Hoi An’s modern townhouses were built during the colonial period, the old town still retains many monuments that reflect the periods of history of formation, rebirth and decline. The architectural styles from the 16th century to the early 18th century often took the basic function, which was influenced by the economy, trading port of Hoi An at that time. Typical for this period are boat docks, wells, pagodas, temples, bridges, graves, clans, and merchant houses. Since the 18th century, Hoi An is no longer the first trading port. In this period popular literature temple, communal houses, churches and especially the Assembly Hall. During the French colonial period, same as many other cities of Vietnam, Hoi An was deeply influenced by French architecture. Colonial-style homes appear more and more concentrated on a street. The interwoven French style of traditional houses is a consequence of a Western lifestyle that has emerged in the lives of Hoi An residents. The works of this period retain the harmony in the architectural language, the flexibility in decorating and matching urban space, giving Hoi An a new look.
Hoi An was a center of early Buddhism in Vietnam with most Hinayana pagodas. Many temples here date back to quite early, but most of the original architecture has been altered, even faded through historical variations and restorations.
Temple or pagoda works in Hoi An functioned as a place to worship the gentleman who founded the city, Assembly and Minh Huong Commune. This type of architecture usually has a simple form, located in the village, the yin-yang tile roof with the altar placed in the center. The most typical of this type of architecture is Quan Cong Temple, also known as Ong Pagoda, located in the heart of the Old Quarter, No. 24 Tran Phu Street. The work was built by the Minh Huong and Vietnamese in 1653, worshiping Quan Cong, the general of the Three Kingdoms period, symbolizing the loyalty and virtue.
In Hoi An, as in many other parts of Vietnam, the clans have ancestor worship places, known as the clan house or the church. This is a special type of housing architecture, of large families who have founded the village from the early days of Hoi An and passed on to their descendants.
The Tran clan house is located at 21 Le Loi street, built in the early 19th century. Like other Hoi An clans, the house is located in a 1,500m² wide, Front yard planted bonsai, flowers, fruit trees. The house has architectural influences from China, Japan and Vietnam, made of precious wood, 3 compartments 2 folds, sloping roof tile yin and yang. The space in the house is divided into two parts, the main part of which is worship, the second part is the residence of the chief and the receptionist. Worshiping compartment has three doors, in which the door to the right for women, the left for men, the main door in the middle for the elderly who have a position in their clan and only open on holidays. On the altar, the small boxes contain relics and biographies of the Tran family in their lineage. Behind the throne is a high-ridge that is used to bury the placenta of members of the family at birth. Also on this land, grown a starfruit tree, symbolizing the attachment to the homeland of the descendants of their generation.
One of the outstanding characteristics of the Chinese people is that any of their overseas residences have community halls – a community activities based on compatriots. In Hoi An today there are 5 congregations that correspond to the five major Chinese diaspora here: Fujian, China, Chaozhou, Quynh Phu and Guangdong. The congregations are quite large scale, both on Tran Phu street and forward to Thu Bon river.
In the five Assembly Halls in Hoi An, Fujian (Phuc Kien Assembly) is the largest congregation, located at 46 Tran Phu Street. The structure is Three style, stretching from Tran Phu to Phan Chu Trinh, in the order: the main gates, yard, two block house of East and West, main house, backyard and back house.
Bridge Pagoda – Japanese Bridge
The only remaining bridge in Hoi An today is the Bridge Pagoda, also known as the Japanese Bridge. This bridge is about 18 meters long, crossing a small creek running into the Thu Bon River. Over the course of many renovations, the shape of the bridge has changed a lot, and today’s appearance is shaped by repairs in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is characteristic of Nguyen Dynasty architecture.
The Japanese Bridge has a rather unique architecture, the upper-middle class, or lower-bridge, which is quite common in tropical Asian countries. Although it is called the Japanese Bridge but after many restorations, it is difficult to find a trace of Japanese architecture on this bridge. Associated with the bridge upstream is a very small temple worship Huyen Thien emperor, built after the bridge about half a century. The temple is located next to the bridge, separated by a layer of wooden walls and doors, creating a separate space. This small bridge today has become the symbol of Hoi An city.
Night market Hoi An
People come to the Hoi An night market for just wandering, watching or posing to take photos of the lantern.. Walking in the night market is a special experience, see the bright lantern booths hanging along the street, shop the handicrafts souvenir or taste special street food of Hoi An such as Cao Lau, Quang noodle, cakes, black sesame tea…
What to do
Tailor-making clothing in Hoi An
Hoi An is also well-known for its finest silk which is produced in a century old traditional silk village in Hoi An, as well as for the skillful tailors who can make you a best suit or clothes, they are known as master craftsmen, also able to copy any design they see. If you show them a photo of a coat, suit or dress, you can expect a nearly exact replica to be produced within 24-48 hours.
The best tailor shops in Hoi An are well-known, but not every business operates honestly. There has been an increased number of tailor shops over the years in Hoi An because of those eager to capitalize on the influx of tourists looking for custom-made clothing, some of these shops have less-qualified employees using lower-quality materials. Our recommendations of the shops below that have the most positive reviews and feedback, as well as by word of mouth locally.
1. YALY COUTURE – 358 Nguyen Duy Hieu St., Hoi An. Yaly is probably the most popular name if you ask for a good tailor in Hoi An. It’s a good place to have elaborate items made: apparel with sequins, ruffles, multiple layers of fabric, bead work and embroidery, etc. Despite being the most expensive in town, Yaly has won acclaim as the higher prices go with the higher and guaranteed quality and efficient service.
2. A DONG SILK – 40 Le Loi, Hoi An. Especially favoured for their quality and attentive service. The secret of A Dong Silk’s success may lie in their care to customer satisfaction, since most customers appraised the staff there for being very friendly and patient, as well as their knowledge of how the fabrics work with different garments and their high tailoring skill.
3. LANA TAILOR – 130 Tran Phu St. /94 Le Loi St,. Lana has a large selection of designs to choose from. Though this shop has a better choice of designs and fabrics for women than for men, you can possibly be impressed by amazing girls at this tailor.
4. BAO KHANH SILK – 101 Tran Hung Dao St., Hoi An, This popular tailors specializing in made-to-measure fashion, formal wear and casual clothing has once been featured in The Sunday Times Travel as the best cloth shop in Vietnam and the second in 25 best cloth shops in the world. Bao Khanh has a dazzling range of silks, a talented team of tailors.
5. THU THUY – 60 Le Loi St.,/54 Nguyen Thai Hoc St./88 Tran Phu St., Hoi An. Thu Thuy is the oldest and largest shop in town. Named for its owner – Madamme Thu Thuy, this shop has been in business since 1989. Ever since then, they has well-maintain and develop their name as one of the best place for tourists to have a deluxe suit, or beautiful and fitted dress made-to-measure in the shortest time.